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`It really was rather disgraceful. Still, that is politics': The 1967-8 Decision to Defer the Raising of the School Leaving Age

Dorey, Peter 2008. `It really was rather disgraceful. Still, that is politics': The 1967-8 Decision to Defer the Raising of the School Leaving Age. Public Policy and Administration 23 (4) , pp. 391-407. 10.1177/0952076708093251

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The 1964—70 Labour Governments were formally committed to a major expansion and reorganization of education in Britain, at both secondary and higher levels. Alongside the commitment to `comprehensivisation' of secondary schools and the expansion of universities, Labour was also committed to raising the school leaving age from 15 to 16. However, the increasingly severe economic problems that affected Britain from 1966 onwards, culminating in devaluation in November 1967, prompted an urgent search for significant cutbacks in public expenditure, with one of the casualties being the raising of the school leaving age. A case study of this decision reveals several aspects of interest to students of public policy and administration, including the extent to which short-term economic exigencies were privileged over long-term social objectives. This enabled the Treasury to exercise dominance over spending Departments, with its senior officials presenting the options for financial savings in a manner that led almost ineluctably to the raising of the school leaving age being sacrificed. The decision also revealed the existence of tensions within the Cabinet, not merely on traditional ideological and inter-Departmental grounds, important though these were, but also, to some extent, in terms of the socio-educational backgrounds of Ministers. Consequently, the Treasury and its officials were able to pursue a subtle process of `divide and rule' among Ministers and their Departments.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
L Education > LA History of education
Uncontrolled Keywords: devaluation; education; Ministers; public expenditure; Treasury
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0952-0767
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:15

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